Skip to main content

tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  WHUT  August 20, 2012 7:30am-8:00am EDT

7:30 am
coming up, clinics in india pay poor women a lot of money to be surrogate mothers, but it's a bargain for the clients, who are often foreigners. and mormon leaders addressing what they see as a growing problem -- too many singles. major funding is provided by the lilly endowment. dedicated to its founders and interested in community
7:31 am
development and education. additional fuing also provided by mutual of america. designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. the estate of william j. carter. the james henson foundation and the corporation for public broadcasting. welcome, i'm kim lawton, sitting in for bob abernethy. thank you for joining us. campaign 2012 heated up this week after governor mitt romney selected wisconsin representative paul ryan as his running mate. ryan is a roman catholic, and with vice president joe biden on the democratic side, this is the first time that both parties have catholics on the ticket. ryan agrees with his church's opposition to abortion and gay marriage, but he has generated debate in some catholic circles for his economic views. as chief author of the republican budget plan, ryan supports funding cuts for many social programs. some catholics, including bishops, argued that would hurt
7:32 am
the poor. ryan's response -- >> as a catholic in public life, my own personal thinking on these issues has been guided by my understanding of the church's social teaching. simply put, i do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government. >> joining me with moron this is kevin eckstrom, editor-in-chief of "religion news service." kevin, a lot of catholics disagreed with how paul ryan applied his catholic faith to his budget plan. >> right, and what's interesting is paul ryan has been on the catholic radar screen for a long time and you know when the nuns on the bus went out this summer to advocate for social justice, it wasn't a mistake that they actually stopped at his congressional office in wisconsin. it's interesting, because the church for the last couple of years has really put a priority on the life issues, abortion and gay marriage, and they've said that joe biden and barack obama are completely wrong on this issue but in recent months, as
7:33 am
the budget becomes a bigger issue and more in the news, they've really put an emphasis on the economic stuff and they have been very pointed in their criticism of not only the republican plan but also paul ryan who was the architect of that plan so it will be interesting to watch the sort of church's divided loyalties on this one. >> and i have heard some catholics say that faithful catholics can indeed disagree on some of the economic issues. paul ryan talks about the catholic principle of subsidiarity, which is not one we hear a lot in politics, but this notion that all decisions should be made at the most local level and action should be taken at the most local level possible. he uses that to justify his opposition to what he calls big government, and there are catholics who agree with that interpretation even though others say that's a misreading of catholic teachings. >> right, and what the bishops are saying and what a lot of catholics are saying is that's fine. if you want us to do it on the local level, we'll do that. we'll run the soup kitchens and we'll run the adoption clinics
7:34 am
or whatever, but we need the government's help to do that, and don't make it worse for us by throwing people off of -- you know, making their economic conditions worse that they're going to need more services because there's only so much that we can do. so if you're going to do this, fine, but don't sacrifice the poor at the expense of the rich. >> and some church leaders have called abortion the paramount issue, and of course, joe biden, while he says he's personally opposed to abortion, certainly does favor abortion rights and in a way, the two of them, ryan and biden, reflect the divisions in the catholic voters as well among these different ideologil perspectives. >> right, and you know, this is a pocketbook election. it's all going to be about the economy and jobs, and it will really come down to, you know, what people's priorities are. i don't know that a lot of people are going to be voting on abortion and gay marriage, but a lot of people will be voting on the economy. and if they look at ryan and say, "i think he's going to possibly make it worse" or "he's going to cut my medicare
7:35 am
benefits," among catholics in key states, like florida, ohio, that could have a big enough difference to actually make a difference. >> and indeed, catholics have been swinging back and forth overall, showing how deeply divided they are. and in fact, they voted, the majority of catholics, have voted with the one who actually won the presidency, so it will be interesting to watch. kevin eckstrom, thanks as always. >> thank you. in other news, a shooting this week at the washington, d.c. offices of the family research council, a public policy group that rallies religious conservatives. a security guard was in stable condition after being shot in the arm when he fought with a gunman who had entered the lobby. police arrested a man who was a volunteer at a community center for gays and lesbians. the frc has taken a strong public stand against gay marriage. groups who disagree with that
7:36 am
position joined others in condemning the attack. pope benedict xvi's butler was charged with aggravated theft this week for his role in the so-called "vatileaks scandal." paolo gabriele was arrested in may after several confidential vatican documents were found in his apartment. gabriele will be tried before a panel of vatican judges and if convicted, could serve up to six years in an italian prison. another vatican employee is also facing a lesser charge for helping gabriele. the trials will not begin before september 20th, when the vatican court returns from its summer recess. in india, impoverished women are able to earn good money by becoming surrogate mothers for parents outside the country. it may seem like a win-win situation -- poor women get much-need income, and for prospective parents, the costs are much lower than using surrogate programs here in the u.s.
7:37 am
but what are the moral issues surrounding this? fred de sam lazaro reports. >> minutes after delivering a slightly premature infant by c-section, this busy gynecologist was back in her office and on the phone to the parents. they were en route from england and didn't reach the small town of india in time to watch a surrogate mother give birth to their child. the doctor has delivered some 400 surrogate babies since 2004. her clinic implants the embryos and pays around $7,000 for a pregnancy carried to term. the surrogates come from around the world.
7:38 am
this woman came to pick up her baby girl named serenity. she was born three weeks premature, but after a week in neonatal intensive care she was ready to be discharged. serenity traveled with her 9-year-old son. she had tried to conceive. and surrogacy was her last hope and india her first choice -- and the cost, $10,000 to $15,000 all told -- is a fraction of what it is in the u.s., and in america, she added, surrogacy contracts are not always air-tight. >> if that surrogate changes her mind she can sue you for that child, and oftentimes she will win, and coming here to indi these women, they don't want my child. it's very cut and dry. they do not want my child.
7:39 am
they want my money, and that is just fine with me. >> it's not fine with everyone. >> the contracts are usually written, to be blunt, to protect the wealthy people who are commissioning the baby, so that if the woman suffers an injury, if the woman has a health problem due to childbirth, if there's a long-term chronic condition, then what? >> arthur kaplan worries that the relationship is inherently lopsided between poor, minimally literate women and well-heeled couples who commission them to have their children. for example, surrogates in india are routinely implanted with up to five embryos to improve the chances of a pregnancy. in the u.s., clinics usually implant no more than two, sometimes three. >> why would you use three, four, five embryos in india? because you don't want the couple to have to come back. it's expensive even for a rich person, so you're trying to
7:40 am
maximize the chance of pregnancy, even if it might compromise the interests of the babies. >> dr. patel concedes that implanting five embryos heightens the risk for infants and mother, and says she is now lowering the number to three or four. but she says the downside of fewer embryos is a lower pregnancy success rate. when multiple embryos develop into viable pregnancies, dr. patel's policy is to reduce them by selective abortion. aside from possible religious concerns, the process could present medical risk to the surviving fetuses. >> parents -- yes, there are some who say right from the beginning, "doctor, put less embryos because we are not for reduction, and we don't this to happen." so in those cases we never transfer more than two. but there are certain parents who don't have any objection to this, and surrogates -- we don't allow them to carry more than two. >> dr. patel insists that her facility protects the interests of surrogates as much as the
7:41 am
clients of her commercial surrogacy program and the infants she delivers. >> we do a lot of psychological counseling for the surrogate and the family before we recruit them. we explain to them the procedure ivf, what all they'll have to undergo. if she has any complication with her previous pregnancy, we will ask her not to become a surrogate, because the same can repeat this time, to make it very sure and safe for her. >> the moment their pregnancs are confirmed, surrogates are required to move into this home run by dr. patel. they're offered skills training in things like tailoring, but mostly it's a quiet, sedentary life. the women who spend nine months in this surrogate hospital have all experienced childbirth with their own biological children. it's a prerequisite for becoming a surrogate. what very few of them have experienced with those previous pregnancies is any kind of prenatal care. that's in sharp contrast to the
7:42 am
pampering they get here -- meals provided and medical attention, should they need it, round the clock. dr. patel acknowledges the irony, but says it is part of a thorough surveillance to ensure smth pregnancies, for both surrogate and parents' sake. >> we have a fetal medicine specialist who checks all the surrogates every three weeks. we have been able to detect minor congenital malformations, which we inform the couple can be treated post-delivery without any impact on the baby. we have had patients whose surrogates had babies with down syndrome, which was detected, which was confirmed with amniocentesis, and we have aborted those babies after the consent of the couple. >> well in advance, she says, parents are consulted on decisions like pregnancy termination. similarly, parents must accept their babies, once born, whether healthy or not. surrogates we spoke with talked about building a new home and using their money for their children's education.
7:43 am
the money, $7,000 to $8,000 would otherwise take them decades to earn. most say they were happy to have helped infertile couples. the woman who bore baby serenity we met earlier, admitted to some sorrow at heseparation. >> you can't help it when you've carried a baby for nine months. i'd like to see how she does in the future. >> so i do have her address so i can get ahold of her. and i hopefully will be able to maintain some kind of a relationship with her. >> we caught up with serenity's mother in mumbai, about an hour's flight from dr. pa tell's. she and son brandon were holed up in a hotel awaiting dna test results and myriad documents to satisfy the indian and u.s. governments that the infant could leave the country. >> am i living happily ever after now? i certainly hope so. i hope that i can get her home, and i hope that she is a happy,
7:44 am
healthy little baby, and that is what i will have -- a healthy, happy little girl. >> but will every surrogacy story end happily? right now, india has only voluntary guidelines, and it's not clear whether future laws would be adequately enforced, and standards vary widely. for example, dr. patel says she only serves infertile couples. but some clinics offer surrogates to healthy parents who, for career or convenience, want to avoid pregnancy. ethicist caplan worries about where all this is leading. >> we may get into situations where people start to say, as genetic knowledge improves, you know, i'm not infertile but i'd like to make a baby with traits and properties that i'd like to avoid or that i desire. that day is coming. i think it's important to keep in mind, as we watch the evolution of surrogacy's
7:45 am
international activity, what is really something that a tiny handful of people use who suffer from infertility tomorrow can be what more people are interested in because they have a more eugenic, more perfectionist interest in making their children. >> for her part, dr. patel plans a major expansion of her one-stop surrogacy shop, a leader in what's now a a half billion dollar industry in india. she makes no apologies for making a lucrative living and insists that she, the surrogates and the new parents all come out winners. for "religion & ethics newsweekly," this is fred de sam lazaro. marriage in the church of jesus christ of latter day saints is for all eternity. surveys show that mormons are much more likely than the population at large to be married and to marry someone of their own faith. but like other americans in
7:46 am
recent years, mormons have been all, which has alarmed some church leaders. here's a story from lucky severson, which first aired last year. ♪ >> this is the mormon church's crystal city chapel just outside washington, d.c. there are several others in the area, but this one is unique -- the 800 members who attend here are all single. along with worshiping, they're here for one other very important reason -- to find a partner and get married. this is bishop louis larson who leads the congregation of older singles aged 31 to 55. >> if you were to look across the general spectrum of single adults, the trend in america is not to even marry at all but to cohabitate. that is not a trend in the mormon church. >> if there's any doubt, talk to some of the singles here. >> i know that god wants that for me.
7:47 am
i know that man was not meant to be alone, nor was woman,ut that we complement one another. >> were you ready at 22 or 23 to get married? >> i sure think i was. i think i've been ready for a long time, but i haven't been plucked from the vine yet. >> my grandma offered to find someone to pay someone to date me, because she was fairly convinced i was not able to do that on my own. >> mormonism is the marriage religion. >> sociology professor brad wilcox is director of the national marriage project at the university of virginia. he says the marriage rate in the u.s. has seen a dramatic decline since the 1970s at a 14-fold increase in couples cohabiting. but among practicing mormons, marriage is still sacred. >> they sacralize marriage, obviously, and they view marriage as an eternal institution that exists beyond this space and time. >> professor wilcox is speaking about temple marriages, where members in good standing are sealed together for time and all
7:48 am
eternity. >> when you die and your spouse dies, you will be united as a husband and wife. when your children die, they will be united with you as a family and that the family unit continues on, and i know that that's a concept that is not generally taught in the christian world, but it's very sacredly held concept in mormonism. >> marriage has always been a sacred principle of the mormon church, but it took on an added dimension when church president thomas monson, who is considered a modern-day prophet, expressed alarm at the church's most recent general conference that not enough members are getting married. >> now i have thought a lot lately about you young men who are of an age to marry, but you have not yet felt to do so. i see lovely young ladies who
7:49 am
desire to be married and to raise families, and yet their opportunities are limited because so many young men are postponing marriage. >> one reason church leaders are pushing marriage so urgently is that so many young men in the mid-20s are falling away and becoming inactive, focusing on the kinds of things that occupy other young men -- getting an education, a job and having fun. it's important to the church and to its young men that they get married, because only married men can hold high leadership offices, and the church says only mormons who marry can reach the highest realm in the afterlife. since serving a church mission, many young mormons in the d.c. area have spent their time pursuing advanced degrees. beverli jo dewalt has been working on a career at the state department. >> most of the folks out here are people that have pursued an education, pursued a career and not with the purpose of delaying
7:50 am
marriage, but with the idea that we want to have a full life that includes all of those things. >> i've been just very busy with business, and it wasn't until about six months ago when i really decided i do want to get married. >> how about you, steve, what's your excuse? >> well, beyond the obvious or -- >> steve archibald is 28, has a master's in accounting. >> there's definitely a lot of pressure to get married, but at the same time, there's not pressure to rush into any kind of decision. we can all s that we're looking. we're doing our best to try and find the potential ten out there. >> one high church leader suggested that in looking for a mate, young mormons like steve should stop reaching for a ten. >> it's my job as bishop is to bring a little reality on this, that what they thought they were going to marry probably never did exist. you know, people have faults. some might be a little
7:51 am
overweight, some might be losing their hair, and that doesn't mean that they are not a fantastic person. >> this is an annual social event in washington for single mormons aged 31 to 55. washington may not be the hub of the church, but there are between 50,000 and 70,000 members living in the area, the largest concentration east of the mississippi. for women in their mid-30s who want to start a family, more and more are taking the initiative. >> we are a traditional church, and you would say women don't initiate. but i think that changes when you're around 30. yeah, women are much more proactive in my ward >> you think there's a downside to getting married too young? >> don't ask me because i married in my mid 30s. i'm like my own congregation. >> bushel of fawn allen has 21 to 31-year-old singles. he says getting young early is a
7:52 am
good thing. >> we had children while we were going to school and we looked back on those times today as the best time of our life, when we were struggling. we don't encourage people to wait to get married. >> folks who get married in their teaches -- teens are much more likely to get divorced. people who get married in the mid 20s are pretty safe when it comes to divorce. ♪ >> nationally, the divorce rate is down from 50 to 43%. among mormons it's about 20%. church leaders say it's because of the strong emphasis on family. one night is set aside each week for family home evenings and also because of the church's teachings on chastity. >> in our faith we don't allow for say premarital sex and i'm sure that does happen, but it's a rarity. and we're teaching them to kind of hang on to their values. >> 26-year-old megan berra got
7:53 am
engaged. e said she's glad she waited. >> we have sex drives like everybody else, so of course it's very hard. but i love what we call the law of chastity which is no sex before marriage and complete fidelity when in marriage. i think it's kept me from a lot of regret and pain. >> another reason for the low divorce rate is that mormons try to date someone of their open faith. some we spoke with said they dated outside of the church but it hadn't worked out. others are like steve. >> i do not date non-mormons just because we're pretty lucky in this area. the numbers are in our favor. speaking for us guys. you know, our congregation alone here today will have 300 individuals, close to 200 of them will be women. >> after the church service, the search for a life long eternal mate continues. in earnest.
7:54 am
bishop larson thinks that by the end of this year at least 20 couples in his congregation of 200 will be engaged or married. for religious and ethics news weekly i'm lucky severson in crystal city, virginia. 93-year-old evangelist billy graham has returned home after spending two nights in the hospital being treated for bronchitis. graham's doctor said he was remarkably healthy for a man his age. reverend sun myung moon, founder of the unification church, was hospitalized this week with pneumonia. the 92-year-old moon was said to be in grave condition. moon founded his church in south korea in 1954, teaching that he was completing the unfinished work of jesus. he attracted millions of members from around the world and was especially known for performing mass weddings. and the leader of the annual march for life died last weekend. nellie gray was in her late 80s. one of the nation's most
7:55 am
prominent opponents of abortion, she helped found the march in 1974, one year after the supreme court's landmark roe v. wade decision. and finally, on our calendar this week, muslims mark the end of their month long ramadan observance with the three-day festival of eid al-fitr -- the "feast of fast breaking." the holiday is celebrated by visits to family and friends, and special prayers giving thanks to allah for the strength to do the ramadan fasting. that's our program for now. i'm kim lawton. you can follow us on twitter and facebook, where i have a fan page, too. watch us anytime on smartphones. there's always much more on our website as well. you can comment on all of our stories and share them. audio and video podcasts are also available. join us at as we leave you, scenes of roman catholics this past week celebrating the feast of the assumption honoring mary.
7:56 am
>> major funding for religion and ethics news weekly is founded by lilian endowment. additional funding also provided by mutual of america. designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. the estate of william j. carter. the james henson foundation. and the corporation for public broadcasting.
7:57 am
7:58 am
7:59 am